FF: Why I shouldn't work the celebrity beat


It's becoming obvious to me that I am terrible at spotting well-known faces in a crowd. Someone is always having to point them out to me: "Look, Bruce Willis is here!" (at a Guy Forsyth concert years ago) and "That was Eli Roth, didn't you realize?" I do pretty well with local film people -- I can spot Mike Judge and Richard Linklater, and anyone could spot Quentin Tarantino (okay, he's not "local" yet, but he's getting there). If you want a prime example of me not recognizing filmmakers, check out my Ann Richards story over at Celluloid Eyes. (Note that I recognized Richards.)

I was waiting in line last night for The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning screening on the opening night of Fantastic Fest. The Alamo South Lamar lobby was decked out for the festival -- a coffin in one corner, various vendor tables around the room. Some people from a local haunted house, The Nightmare Factory, were passing out coupons and flyers. A few were in costume. A News 8 camera crew was there too, taking pictures of us in line. The Nightmare Factory brought in a guy dressed in an oversized demon costume with long, puppet-like hands, and the camera crew started shooting that.

Suddenly this older couple walked in -- looked very Texas, with the man in a gimme cap and the woman a little more dressed up than he was. They practically collided with the demon guy, and looked around the theater, seeming a bit disoriented. I felt terribly sorry for them. I figured they'd probably come to the Alamo to see Little Miss Sunshine, and had no idea that this whole weirdo festival was taking place. I wondered what they'd do next.

And then the News 8 camera crew rushed up to the guy, and he smiled at them and started talking to the reporter, and I realized that the man in the cap was R. Lee Ermey, one of the co-stars of the movie we were about to see. I wish I could have taken a photo, but I had to leave my camera in the car because there was security at the screening.

And damnit, I should have known Ermey, because back in 2003 during JournalCon Austin, which I helped organize, the big buzz among the conferencegoers was that Ermey was in the lobby of our hotel, and was the nicest guy in the world. You'd think that I'd done it on purpose and that he was one of the planned conference attractions.

But once again, I proved myself incapable of recognizing people I really ought to know. At least I recognized Jordanna Brewster at the Chainsaw after-party when she ended up inadvertantly standing about two feet away from me.

(I've got pictures from the after-party ... look for them this weekend sometime.)